Feb 19 AT 1:55 PM Taylor Wimberly 51 Comments

T-Mobile to launch nationwide “4G” in 2010?

What is 4G? It depends who you ask.

The ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) defines 4G as International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced which is a cellular system that must have target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbps for a high mobility connection and 1 Gbps for low mobility.

On the other hand, you have a carrier like Sprint which is marketing its WiMax network as “The first and only wireless 4G network from a national carrier”. Their WiMax network has a target peak of 10 Mbps, but real world tests place the speeds between 3-6 Mbps. It is still a heck of a lot faster than most 3G networks, so Sprint felt justified in calling it 4G.

So really, 4G is just a marketing term.

T-Mobile is set to launch their HSPA+ network nationwide by mid-2010. They currently use HSPA 7.2 and the upgrade to HSPA+ will be achieved by a software update to their network nodes and a massive backhaul upgrade.

The flavor of HSPA+ that T-Mobile is using features a theoretical max of 21 Mbps (and newer versions of HSPA+ can do 42 and 84 Mbps). Philadelphia is the test market for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ and early results show it can do 9 Mbps in real world tests.

Are you confused yet? T-Mobile’s new “3G” network is actually faster than Sprint’s 4G WiMax.

T-Mobile has sent out a few press releases to announce their HSPA+ upgrade, but they have yet to begin their marketing blitz.

“While other carriers talk about 4G plans and the promise of compatible devices, T-Mobile will speed ahead with HSPA+ deployments across the bulk of its 3G footprint this year, delivering 3-5 times the speeds of today’s 3G. And the best thing about the HSPA+ upgrade is that it’s backward compatible, so that T-Mobile 3G-enabled devices will be faster in 2010.”T-Mobile USA

We have openly wondered what name T-Mobile would assign to the HSPA+ network. Would they call it 3.5G or maybe 3G+ like some Canadian carriers with similar HSPA+ networks?

Believe it or not, it looks like T-Mobile will in fact use 4G when referring to its HSPA+ network. T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman provided an update of their network plans at Mobile World Congress and he was actually billing HSPA+ as 4G technology.

Any why shouldn’t T-Mobile call it 4G? If their new network is going to be faster than Sprint’s 4G, they might as well jump on the bandwagon and use it too.

We reached out to T-Mobile to confirm the name they will use for HSPA+, but they did not respond in time for publication. If we hear back from them, we will update this story.

Update: We received a response from T-Mobile. They are not referring to HSPA+ as “4G” at this time. We are attempting to get a transcript from the Mobile World Congress event to see what Cole Brodman said and how he used the term 4G.

“In 2009, T-Mobile upgraded its 3G network to the faster, HSPA 7.2 standard and became the first carrier to launch HSPA+ with a deployment in Philadelphia. In the coming months, you will continue to see T-Mobile integrate HSPA+ into its 3G network with broad national deployment planned for this year.”T-Mobile USA

Either way, this is going to be a really interesting story later this year. T-Mobile should have the fastest mobile data network and it could be confusing with Sprint still using the term 4G to refer to its WiMax network.

What do you think T-Mobile should do?

[Image credit Inquisitr]

Source: CNET

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website mike Jones

    Cant wait. my Nexus 1 on HSPA+

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      According to the tests from jkontherun.com, the Nexus One was doing over 4 Mbps down on the HSPA+ network in Philly.

      • http://Website kyle

        Thats nice, but I am not seeing any benefits from the latest upgrade to 7.2mbps. Still pulling down 512kb in Tampa, FL. Same thing now with the Nexus that I got with my G1 a long time ago.

  • http://Website Bugdog

    Well that’s interesting and all, but more importantly, where can I get one of those Mr. T mobiles?

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      He has my vote for new tmo spokesman. Him and Luke Wilson can go head to head arguing about maps.

  • http://Website Jeremiah

    As a long time T-Mobile customer and Nexus One owner this is great news! My only request is to make the 3G coverage area larger before the roll out. I live outside Indianapolis and the city has great 3G coverage but at home I am stuck on Edge just wish the network was larger for us loyal customers that are tired of watching AT&T and Verizon argue it out….T-Mobile rules! lol

    • http://Website Roy Morris

      If you want to take it into your own hands just buy a outdoor cellphone repeater. They are expensive but well worth it if you are a smart phone enthusiast.

    • http://Website ontheFritz

      I completely agree. As a recent nexus one owner, I’m seeing some spotty 3G coverage in the Fort Lauderdale area. Great coverage closer to highways, but breaks up near the beach. Hopefully they’ll do both?

    • http://gardenwife.com Gardenwife

      No doubt! They still don’t even have 3G in my area of central Ohio. Just a few miles east of us, there’s no coverage at all. :/ I love my G1 and am going to stick with Android for future phones, but they sure do feel crippled with the current coverage.

  • http://Website ruben

    Tmobile taking about 4G already. I only wish they would give us plain old 3G in Puerto Rico. Its only a 100 by 35 mile island and only edge is available. ATT gets 3G all over the island and its my understanding it is done with only 2 antennas. Come on Tmobile move your A$$ and hurry up with the 3G.

  • npkimmey

    I doubt they’ll call it 4G, especially with the myTouch 3G brand continuing. It wouldn’t really make a difference, but some people would be confused.

  • Manly Man

    oh snap clubber lang is going to be T-mobile spokesman?

  • http://www.everythinglegit.com Ramon

    I’m getting 3mbps down in New York on my G1. Should get my nexus nex week :)

  • http://Website Galen20K

    Heyy’ I really don’t care WHAT they call it at those speeds, I think they really do have a right to refer to it as 4G if it blows Sprints 4G away as it stands.

    I love T-Mobile and I have Never been disappointed with them in the least.

  • http://Website mike

    Nationwide my ass still on edge here in Springfield,MO

    • http://gardenwife.com Gardenwife

      We have areas just a few miles east of us with no voice or data coverage at all. I love T-Mobile, but they need to extend their coverage and up their speeds. We don’t even have 3G in my area yet.

  • http://Website spencer

    They should call it 5g if sprint gets to call theirs 4g.

  • krazytrixxxsta

    i went to philly on new year day, i dont know if it was less population of tmobile users, more towers in philly or they were already experimenting with the hspa the speed my mytouch had was ridiculous. high quality videos loaded fast as sh*t on youtube, apps with gps worked faster. i was just amazed by the speed. i didnt get speed like back at home in boston, well not the majority of the time anyways.

  • http://Website dustin

    <3 tmobile 4 life
    "Super Awesome Mega Fantastic Our G Kicks Your G's ARS Network!!"

  • http://Website Jerry

    The problem with T-mobile 3G is that it doesn’t extend to all your devices. . it’s just a faster 3G ..

    Sprint’s 4g on the other hand is a network that covers all your devices..

    For example if I have Wimax 4g .. I don’t need tethering for my laptop .. All I have to do is turn on my wimax enabled laptop .. and I’m on 4G .. while my phone is also on 4g .. if I have a wimax camera.. my camera would be on 4g as well .. I can upload youtube vids right from the camera .. upload pics right onto picasa..

    So you’ll probably see android cameras soon…
    Also carmakers can put a wimax enabled dashboard.. and your car will be 4G enabled as long as it’s in a 4G location..

    Tmobiles 4G is jsut and upgraded 3g . while Sprint is a lot more..

    • http://Website joshua

      So doesn’t that mean that you have to buy all new devices for Sprint’s network, whereas tmobile is backwards compatible and won’t need new devices to be faster. Of course i’m sure some new devices will be speedier, at least all devices with 3g will be faster. I’d rather have the speed without having to buy a new device, than having to buy new devices if i was on Sprint.

  • Manly Man

    They need to/better extend their data coverage in this 4g launch!

  • http://Website Dan

    Funny how Canada has had this technology implemented fairly widespread for about 8 months, and yet you lucky bastards in the States get the best phones much quicker than we do :(

  • http://Website James

    I’d just rather they finish coverage for smaller states. I get great service back home in Texas, but I’m on 24/7 roaming out here in West Virginia.

  • http://Website Rev

    [I have a subscription to both Clear Wimax (which Sprint resells as their 4G network) and T-mobile (3G on N1)]

    In this posting, you compare TMO 3G max speed (9Mbit/s) to the average for Wimax (3-6Mbit/s) and then declare TMO the winner?

    Anyway, my experience with WiMax here in ATL is that it often hovers around 10Mbit/s, and sometimes faster. Also, I pay $50/month for -two- mobile accounts (not limited in speed or size). I don’t think TMO will be able to (or want to) touch that.

    Right now, I have the best of both world: 3G on the N1, or (when in Clear coverage area) 4G through WiMax portable WiFi router to my N1′s WiFi. :-)

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  • http://Website Pieter

    it should be against the law to lie like sprint is doing at the moment. the ITU has clearly stipulated what 4G should be, and they are blatantly defiant.

    sure, it’s a great marketing strategy. but it is false advertisement. tmo will have to follow with naming theirs a 4G network if they want to remain competitive at all.

    so one jump of the gun, and the entire system is fucked.

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  • Killa

    I think it’s great that T-mobile’s 3G will get a huge speed boost, but first they really need to expand their network coverage. Here in south California I can get pretty good 3G coverage when I’m out and about, but when I’m at home it’s kinda spotty. Also it’s not just the 3G, but the regular EDGE network as well. In Ramona (it’s a city that I don’t expect everyone to know about) you eventually lose all coverage there, while Verizon still gets coverage there and A LOT of other places the T-mobile doesn’t (sadly). So that is the only problem with T-mobile.

    • http://Website guest

      Agreed and that is the TMO legacy. TMO has said they will only provide 3G coverage for the central core of any city they go into (not the suburbs) and in 2009 stopped expanding their 3G coverage areas. Therefore, if you do not now have TMO 3G, you will not get it in the future unless there is a policy change. Current 3G coverage is spotty, often with several hundred miles between areas of availability and therfore certainly not nation wide. 3G coverage started in 2002, but for continuous 3G coverage in the US, a person probably needs a phone from each carrier and that may not even work. Currently Congress and the FCC are not listening about nor planning to clear up this mess the carriers have created.

  • Killa

    Another thing I was gonna say is when they do speed it up it should be every place that has 3G because the last speed boost didn’t get every place.

  • http://Website Dan

    Maybe tmobile should focus on better nationwide coverage, most places don’t even get EDGE from tmobile. In major markets like NY my nexus 3G is spotty.

    Out of the major cellular carriers I would rank them nationwide as follows:

    Sprint – close between att and sprint.

  • http://Website HSPA+ Disappointment

    If Tmobile is testing in Philly then their 3G/4G blows!! as I tested it in Center City and only got a high of 3.05 Mbps using Speedtest,net app for my MyTouch 3G. I was excited to be in Philly, as I really wanted to see how fast the HSPA+ could be. However given the results I just experienced, TMobile will be leaving people frustrated with their upgrades. Who cares if Web-Connect has high speeds, it is all about the phones!
    Do not listen to the hype!…. Prove me wrong.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Wow, 3 Mbps is really good for a phone. The theoretical max of the G1 is 7.2 Mbps so in the real world you will prob top out at 3-3.5 Mbps. New HSPA+ devices should be coming later this year that can take advantage of faster speeds.

      • http://Website HSPA+ Disappointment


        Busy week since coming back from Philly. I will concur that 3 Mbps is better than the usual bare mere 1.0 Mbps. However since 1st gen Google phones are only HSPA 7.2 comparable maybe my expectations were too high? I thought the MyTouch 3G could do a little more since T-Mobile were touting up to 21 Mbps speeds and I was hearing up to 9 Mbps from previous forums. Guess if people want to take advantage of higher speeds they should make sure their phones are HSPA+ integrated. do you think any upgrades to Android 2.+ will have any effect on connection speeds or is it merely a manufacturing stand point?

        Thanks for you comments to my post.

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  • http://Website Joe tmo

    I think T-mobile should just be honest about the network. call it HSPA+ market it as different from other carriers and let the speed talk for itself.

    -N1 @ 2.1 mbps in Albuquerque, nm

    • http://Website brandon

      please tell me where you live and what radio you have cause i live in albuquerque and my 3g speeds suck

      @ .1 – .8 mbs :(

  • http://Website Thomas Pagonis

    I call BS on this. There is no way T-Mobile plans on putting out 4G anytime soon. I live in Pensacola, Florida which is a big time military town. All we get in the entire city is Edge. How embarrassing is that? AT&T, Sprint and I think even Cellular South puts T-Mobile to shame.
    Nexus 1 is a great phone but using it on Edge is like driving a Lambo with 4 flat tires.
    The Network does alot for the phone’s image. Unfortunately T-Mobile’s network, at least in Pensacola, does more bad than good for the N1. One of the newer recruits here on base tried impressing everyone with his nice new N1. He was doing well until he went up against a 3GS. Of course the N1 is faster but the EDGE had the N1 crawling. Everything on the web came up faster on the 3GS and everyone was left calling the N1 a POS. It killed me inside.

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  • http://Website J. Harper

    Those excited about using your Nexus One on HSPA+… idiots. Your phone doesn’t support HSPA+. Further, HSPA+ is a 3.5g service, because it’s theoretical limit is 21mbps… WiMax has a theoretical limit of 1gbps stationary and 100mbps moving. That’s what it takes to be 4g. Granted the current first generation deployment of WiMax services is about 10mbps, but what’s important is that in the future it’ll be up to 100mbps moving. Further, WiMax has better spectrum efficiency, which is why Clear/Sprint offers truly unlimited data… NO CAPS. You won’t get that on HSPA+… they can’t afford to give it to you. So even if HSPA+ ends up faster than the current deployment of WiMax well (It’s not in Philly by the by, they offer pretty much the same speeds in real world testing)… enjoy hitting your data cap suckers.

  • http://Website E Thomas

    J harper u are an IDIOT, all caps. You must be a sprint employee or something. Fyi nexus 1, mytouch 3g, cliq, and cliq xt will all be able to utilize the hsap+ speeds, do some research before you open your mouth and stick your foot in it. Also the data cap is only on the webconnect stick, and not phones!

  • http://Website Bigmac

    If you live in an area where T-Mobile decided to build out HSPA, and you don’t travel much, you will probably really enjoy the service. The issue as I see it with T-Mobile will once again be coverage. T-Mobile’s HSPA coverage map will be smaller than its EDGE coverage map in almost all markets. To sum it up. T-Mobile has the smallest voice and slowest (Edge) data coverage of the 4 major carriers; Verizon, AT&T, Sprint. T-Mobile’s HSPA footprint will be smaller than their Edge coverage in most markets. What this means to the consumer is that your phone will transition form high speed to slow as soon as you leave most metropolitan areas. Customers that work downtown and live in the suburbs and rural areas, will really notice that they are not getting what they desire 100% of the time. T-Mobile’s technology works well, but their coverage does not compare.

  • http://Website Rickey Bobby

    I think they should call it “5G” since it’s faster than sprints 4G. They could have an entire marketing campaign around that.

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  • http://Website mike

    I don’t care what they call it. I just want some type of broadband service in Pensacola Fl. My wife’s Verizon phone “nothing fancy” runs circles around my galaxy s. This is the best part she pays LESS for her data plan than I do!

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  • http://Website CellTech1

    I have read some of the comments about why Sprint can call there network 4G, and well it is 4G. Fourth Generation cellular is broadband speed access for data applications, and they have it. All companies fib about the capabilities that they claim to have and if you really want to poke at a company, poke at At&T. With there Ad campain as “the worlds fastest network”… they cant touch Sprint or TMobil. Verizon with theyre deep pockets still dont have a 4G product and handsets to the network that they are building wont be available till next year 3rd Quarter.
    I have tested both networks and they are both fast… but Sprint’s ClearWire 4G is faster…. I am Still switching to Tmobil for now… Sprint outsourced all the network ppl to Ericsson and well they dont care about anything except tickets… the network is suffering. Any Sprint Folks reading this Start complaining now if you care about your network. Customers complain if you want out of the contract to a crumbling network. (90% of all the high tech guys are gone)